English Dub Review: Meiji Tokyo Renka “The Unexpected Strawberry Moon” ; “Sukiyaki Is Romance Veiled in Steam”

Cute ghosts, strange guys, and a time-traveling girl.

Overview (Spoilers Below):

Due to her ability to see ghosts, Mei Ayazuki has been living in Tokyo as a social outcast since fifth grade. But all that changes when she gets roped into doing a disappearing act with a strange street magician. She’s transported back in time to Meiji-era Tokyo, where she attends a ball and meets a lot of strange men.

Episode two finds her dealing with the realization that she’s actually traveled back in time. She gets to know her two housemates better, and tracks down the magician who sent her back in time, only to be told he needs a full moon to return her. That’s right, she’s got an entire month to do whatever she wants in Meiji-era Tokyo!

Our Take:

Going in pretty much blind to Meiji Tokyo Renka, I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations. I knew it was a romance show featuring a whole harem of guys, but that’s about it. From what I can tell based on these two episodes, it might be starting to grow on me! I’m not a huge fan of romance shows, generally speaking. They tend to rely on a lot of tired cliches in my experience, and I’d rather watch something more interesting. Which is why I really like what the show’s doing with the main character Mei so far.

Mei is an easy lead character to root for, complete with a proper outcast sob story. All her friends abandoned her for talking to ghosts at her fifth-grade birthday party. Yikes, right? This childhood trauma has haunted her ever since then, and when we meet her, she’s walking on her own listening to headphones and ignoring the rest of the world. As she gets sucked into the show’s premise, we learn more about her, like how she is fairly level-headed and calm, even when faced with time travel. She’s funny, brave, and super chill considering what these first two episodes put her through. I wouldn’t mind hanging out with her! As for the rest of the cast, there are so many guys introduced in the first episode that there’s no way I’m going to remember them all. Luckily, it looks like that was just a preview of what’s to come. The second episode focuses on the main two: Ōgai, a famous physician, and Shunsō a talented artist. Ogai is definitely my least favorite, since he’s your stereotypically anime creep – offering to let Mei stay at his mansion while giving her nicknames like ‘little squirrel’ and pretending she’s his fiance. Shunso is a little bit funnier and a lot less creepy. Together, the three of them share some solid chemistry that could build into an interesting dramedy.

Even with two episodes behind me, I still have a lot of questions regarding the main plot. What is up with the weird magician? Why did he send Mei back in time? Why does he magically appear places? Why does he sound so skeevy? Oh well, I’m sure some of these questions will be answered later on. The questions don’t stop there, though. What about Mei? It’s not exactly clear how much she remembers from her life in the present day. She doesn’t seem to remember her name or that she has powers at first, but does remember her favorite foods.

The whole ‘magic acceptance’ angle could be really fun to explore. Mei is a loner in the modern day, but not really by choice. No one wants to get close to her because she has a reputation for seeing the supernatural. But stuck in ancient Tokyo, it seems like people are a lot more accepting of people who can see spirits. With an entire month to waste however she chooses, Mei could be in for an uplifting ride!

A huge reason for my enjoyment so far is Madeleine Morris. She does a phenomenal job bringing a lot of personality and life into Mei. From her little inflections to the way she adds some fight into her persona, I’m loving the performance. Shunso’s line: “I don’t have any objections, especially since I’m freeloading, too.” was pretty great.

All in all, Meiji Tokyo Renka seems to be shaping up into something a little more than what I expected. There’s not a whole lot of romance going on yet, and the characters are pretty cool, especially Mei. With plenty of mysterious circumstances to explore around the magician and the time travel, I don’t see the show running out of plot anytime soon, either. Funimation is trying to catch up to the Japanese schedule, and so will be releasing another two dubbed episodes next Wednesday. If you’re into romance, time travel, or just goofy boys with long hair, step inside this magic box!

Score
7/10

Caleb

graphic designer, writer, and animation addict. when i'm not writing words about my favorite shows, you can usually find me skulking about on Twitter. if you want, leave a comment or send me a tweet; i'd love to chat!

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